January 2, 1977: Welcome Back

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(Pictured: Jessica Lange is photogenically menaced by the titular ape in King Kong.)

January 2, 1977, was a Sunday. At the end of the holiday season, the Sunday papers are filled with stories that could have run at any point in the last week. In its final report, a House committee investigating the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King says it cannot rule out the possibility of conspiracy in both cases. In an interview with U.S. News and World Report, President Ford says that the United States should consider limiting presidents to a single six-year term. Ford is expected to send a Puerto Rico statehood bill to Congress before he leaves office on January 20, but President-elect Jimmy Carter believes no action should be taken unless the people of Puerto Rico express a preference for statehood. The FAA says that 1976 was the safest year ever for commercial aviation, and the safest in 10 years for general aviation. Approximately 1200 people died in aviation accidents in 1976, down from nearly 1400 the year before, despite a 50 percent increase in the number of people flying. Scientists have determined that a table traditionally believed to be King Arthur’s Round Table was actually built during the 14th century, hundreds of years after Arthur is supposed to have lived. The Freedom Train, which has been traveling the nation for 20 months displaying 500 historical artifacts in honor of the Bicentennial, has reached the end of the line. It made its final stop in Miami on New Year’s Eve, where the train’s displays will be taken apart and the artifacts returned to their owners.

In Dubuque, Iowa, Renier’s is having a sale on Pioneer stereo receivers today, priced from $189 to $299. Pioneer speakers, turntables, and complete systems are also on sale. Theater-goers in Dubuque can see A Star Is Born, Clint Eastwood in The Enforcer, The Shaggy D.A., The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Jessica Lange in King Kong, Silver Streak, and Joe Panther, a Native American coming-of-age adventure starring Brian Keith and Ricardo Montalban.

Yesterday, #1 Pitt sewed up college football’s national championship with a 27-3 win over #5 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, although #3 USC has a claim after beating #2 Michigan 14-6 in the Rose Bowl. Today, Texas A&M cruises to a 37-14 win over Florida in the Sun Bowl. The NFL is one week away from Super Bowl XI, in which the Oakland Raiders will face the Minnesota Vikings. It will be the earliest Super Bowl ever played; the NFL started its regular season a week early in September so that divisional playoffs could be held on December 18 and 19, thus avoiding playoff games on Christmas Day. Major league journeyman Danny Frisella, who pitched last year for the Milwaukee Brewers, was killed in a dune buggy accident near Phoenix yesterday. TV mogul Ted Turner, who bought the Atlanta Braves before the 1976 season, has been suspended for one year for tampering with a free-agent player. Turner is unconcerned, telling reporters, “This is going to make it hard for me to be Executive of the Year if we win the World Series next year.”

On TV tonight, ABC presents A Farewell Visit With President and Mrs. Ford, hosted by Barbara Walters. Also on ABC tonight: The Six Million Dollar Man and the theatrical movie W. W. and the Dixie Dancekings. NBC presents The Wonderful World of Disney, McMillan and Wife, and Quincy, M.E. On CBS, 60 Minutes is followed by the new Sonny and Cher Show, which premiered last February, plus Kojak and Delvecchio, a crime drama starring Judd Hirsch.

Radio stations around the country counted down their top songs of 1976 over the weekend. At WLS in Chicago, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee and “Silly Love Songs” by Wings were #1 and #2. At Y-103 in Buffalo, the order was reversed. Y-103’s close competitor, WKBW, ranked Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” #1. At WTRX in Flint, Michigan, John Sebastian’s “Welcome Back” was #1 for 1976. WLCX in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, listed “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” at #1 for the year, leading a quirky Top 10 that includes neither Elton, Kiki, Wings, Queen, nor John Sebastian, but has room for “IOU” by Jimmy Dean and Hagood Hardy’s instrumental “The Homecoming.” Album-rock station KSHE in St. Louis named Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” as its #1 song. Country station WQYK in St. Petersburg, Florida, ranked Waylon and Willie’s “Good Hearted Woman” at #1.

Perspective From the President: I stayed home on New Year’s Eve, listening to somebody’s countdown on the radio. Why I did not spend the evening with my first serious girlfriend, I can’t remember. Neither can she. I know, because I asked.

4 thoughts on “January 2, 1977: Welcome Back

  1. I spent part of that New Year’s weekend listening to WSAI-AM in Cincinnati play their Top 76 of ’76. “Baby, I Love Your Way” was the big winner, while “Play That Funky Music” claimed #2. Elton & Kiki came in at #4 and “Silly Love Songs” was #9.

  2. Wesley

    I remember enjoying The Pink Panther Strikes Again so much that I saw it twice. Maybe I saw it this night, because none of the Sunday shows listed apart from 60 Minutes would’ve sparked a chord with me as I neared adolescence (and I liked the latter mainly because my dad did).

    Oh, and I did see that King Kong in theaters too. Give her credit, Jessica Lange had to have a great drive and talent to avoid what seemed like an ill-fated acting career at the time from starring in this messy production by Dino de Horrendous.

  3. Bobby R

    I was halfway through my freshman year of high school and four years into my obsession with Casey Kasem’s American Top 40. I had my own personal song chart, which was primarily pop but had some AOR and adult contemporary mixed in. That was one frigid winter. I remember bracing myself for a long week of school coming up.

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